Asbury Park – An overflow crowd of Asbury Park residents attended the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders meeting in the city last evening to rally the county’s governing body to save the north end beachfront property known as Bradley Cove.
iStar Financial, the city’s master developer, owns the development rights to the site and has a proposal to build 15 town homes on the property. The Asbury Park Council passed a resolution earlier this month to apply for Green Acres funding to preserve the property.
The freeholders were sympathetic to the public outcry to prevent the development, but made it clear that the ball is in Asbury Park’s court. Prior Asbury Park administrations sold the development rights to the property and approved a tax abatement to support the development. Community members are now trying to undue that deal, and seem be hoping that Freeholder Board has the power to make that happen.
Freeholder Tom Arnone said that Asbury Park needs to be totally committed to a preservation project. Councilwoman Amy Quinn indicated that the current council, which has been if office just less that a year and, due to a change in government passed by referendum last year will be replaced in the election this November, said that the city is currently committed to working in partnership with the county to preserve the property.
The sticking point will be the amount that iStar will accept for the property. A draft appraisal of the property completed in October off 2012, prior to Superstorm Sandy pegged the value of the 1/2 acre property a $3.6 million with numerous caveats. Freeholder Director Lillian Burry said that iStar representatives indicated at a meeting last March that they would never accept that amount.
Speaking during the public portion of the meeting, Former Howell Mayor Joe DiBella said that the previous Asbury Park governing body were guilty of “criminal negligence” for letting the property’s development rights go. DiBella urged members of the public to stay involved by attending council meetings and planning and zoning meetings.
Former Freeholder Amy Mallet said that the Open Space program was designed to acquire properties such as Bradley Cove and reminded the freeholders that everything in negotiable, the implication being that the property could be had for less than $3.6 million.